Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.2 KINGS CHAPTER 1
Moab rebelleth against Israel, 2Ki 1:1. Ahaziah being sick sendeth to Baal-zebub; Elijah foretelleth his death, 2Ki 1:2-4. Ahaziah hearing it, sendeth twice captains of fifty, to bring Elijah to him; upon whom he bringeth fire from heaven, 2Ki 1:5-12. The third captain entreateth Elijah; who, encouraged by an angel, goeth and telleth the king of his death, 2Ki 1:13-16. Jehoram succeedeth him, 2Ki 1:17,18.
Moab; which had been subdued by David, 2Sa 8:2, as Edom was; and upon the division of this kingdom into two Moab was adjoined to that of Israel, and Edom to that of Judah, each to that kingdom upon which it bordered. And when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were weak and forsaken by God, they took that opportunity to revolt from them; Moab here, and Edom a little after it.
And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.In his upper chamber; in which the lattice might be left to convey light into the lower room; which if it now seem to be absurd in a king’s palace, we must not think it was so then, when the world was not arrived to that height of curiosity and art in which now it is. But the words may be, and are by some, rendered, through the battlements (or through the lattice in the battlements) of the roof of the house; where being first walking, after the manner, and then standing and looking through, and leaning upon this lattice, which was grown infirm, it broke, and he fell into the court or garden belonging to the house.
Baal-zebub; properly, the god of flies; an idol so called, because it was falsely supposed to deliver those people from flies, which were both vexatious and hurtful to them; as Jupiter and Hercules were called by a like name among the Grecians for thee same reason. And it is evident, both from sacred and profane histories, that the idol gods, being consulted by the heathens, did sometimes through God’s permission and just judgment give them answers, though they were generally observed, even by the heathens themselves to be dark and doubtful.
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?Is it not because there is not a God in Israel? Dost thou not by this action cast contempt upon the God of Israel, as if he were either ignorant of the event of thy disease, or un able to give thee any relief, and as if Baal-zebub had more skill and power than he?
Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.Now therefore; for this was a very heinous crime, to deny the perfections of God, and to transfer them to an idol. See Leviticus 19:31 20:6,27 Deu 18:10.
Elijah departed; the messengers not daring to apprehend him, as suspecting him to be more than man, because he knew the secret message which the king delivered to them in his bedchamber.
And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are ye now turned back?Before you have been at Ekron; which he easily knew by their quick return.
And they said unto him, There came a man up to meet us, and said unto us, Go, turn again unto the king that sent you, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that thou sendest to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? therefore thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?No text from Poole on this verse.
And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.An hairy man; either,
1. As to his body; the hair of his head and beard being through neglect grown long, and spread over much of his time. Or rather,
2. As to his outward garment, which was rough and hairy, such as were sometimes worn by eminent persons in Greece in ancient times, and were the proper habit of the prophets. See Isaiah 20:2 Zechariah 13:4 Matthew 3:4 Hebrews 11:37.
With a girdle of leather about his loins; as John the Baptist also had, Matthew 3:4, that by his very outward habit he might represent Elias, in whose spirit and power he came.
Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.Thou man of God; so he calls him in way of scorn and contempt: q.d. Thou that vauntest as if thou wast more than a mere man.
The king hath said, Come down; the king commands thee to come to him; which if thou refusest, I am here to carry thee to him by force.
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.Elijah’s desire did not proceed from a carnal and malicious passion; but from a pure zeal to vindicate God’s name and honour, which was so horribly abused; and from the motion of God’s Spirit, as is evident from God’s miraculous answer to his desire. And therefore Christ doth not condemn this fact of Elias, but only reproves his disciples for their perverse imitation of it from another spirit and principle, and in a more unseasonable time, Luke 9:54,55.
Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.Wherein he discovers more petulancy and impudence than the former, and shows how little he was moved or affrighted by the former example.
And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight.Fell on his knees, and besought him; expressing both reverence to his person, and a belief of his power, and a dread of God’s judgments.
Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king.Not fearing the rage of the king, nor of Jezebel, nor of all their forces; wherein he gives an eminent example of his faith and obedience; and withal, of his growth in grace since that time that he fled for fear of Jezebel, 1 Kings 19:3.
And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.And he said unto him; to his very face. Nor durst the king lay hands upon him, being daunted with the prophet’s presence, and great courage, and confidence; and affrighted by the late dreadful evidence of his power with God and over men: and withal, struck with a Divine and extraordinary terror.
So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.Jehoram; Ahaziah’s brother, 2 Kings 3:1, for he had no son to succeed him, as it here follows.
In the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat: other passages of Scripture seem to clash with this, as that Ahaziah, who reigned but two years, begun his reign in Jehoshaphat’s seventeenth year, 1 Kings 22:51; and therefore this Jehoram must begin his reign in Jehoshaphat’s nineteenth year; and therefore before the reign of Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son; and that Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign in the fifth year of Joram, Ahab’s son, 2 Kings 8:16.
Answ. These difficulties are easily resolved by this consideration, that it was a usual practice among kings in former ages, to make their sons sometimes their viceroys and deputies in the administration of the kingdom; and sometimes formally kings in conjunction with themselves, and whilst they lived; whereof there are instances, both in profane history, among the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and in the sacred Scripture, as in David, 1 Chronicles 23:1 29:22, in Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:21, and (to come close to the point) in Jehoshaphat, 2 Kings 8:16; who in his seventeenth year, when he went to Ahab, and with him to Ramoth-gilead, appointed his son Jehoram his viceroy, and (in case of his death) his successor. In the second year from that time, when Jehoram was thus made vice-king in his father’s stead and absence, this Jehoram, Ahab’s son, began to reign; and in the fifth year of the reign of this Joram, son of Ahab, which was about the twenty-fourth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign,
Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat was formally made king of Judah, together with his father; or whilst Jehoshaphat lived, and was king of Judah also. And so all the places agree. To which some add, that this verse, or this part of it, wherein the difficulty consists, is wanting in some ancient copies, and is omitted by the LXX. interpreters; which is far more prudent and pious to grant, than upon such chronological difficulties to question the truth and divinity of the Holy Scriptures.
Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?No text from Poole on this verse.